Propane shortage continues to impact the Northwoods

Lakes Gas Company received at least four railcars of propane on Wednesday night. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
Lakes Gas Company received at least four railcars of propane on Wednesday night. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

CRIVITZ - The high cost of the propane shortage has started to hit home for some families in the Northwoods.

Marge Banaszak says the Crivitz Area Food Pantry served 125 families during Wednesday's distribution day.

“We had quite a few clients come through yesterday, that haven't been here in a long time. Some were new, that have never been here, and they're getting hit between the public service bill, and the gas bill, and they don't know which way to go,” said Banaszak.

Banaszak says many people are seniors or on a fixed income, making a choice between food and fuel.

“Some of them only get maybe under $1,000 a month, and they're living on it, and they make it work. They're struggling, they're very much struggling,” said Banaszak.

And for some, help is on the way. The general manager of Lakes Gas Company says at least four railcars full of propane have been delivered to the Crivitz terminal. One came in Wednesday night. And he says a couple more are on the way.

“Our supply has increased dramatically. We're starting to see our tanks starting to fill up,” said Steve Sargeant, Lakes Gas Company general manager.

Steve Sargeant says Lakes is taking new customers and drivers have been told to deliver at full capacity. He says high prices, governmental pressure, and less demand in the south have made deliveries possible from places like Janesville once again.

“Transport drivers are finding it much easier to get in, get out, and they can go back and get another load,” said Sargeant.

Sargeant says propane was around $4.50 a gallon Thursday. He says the crisis should wind down by March.

Marge Banaszak says until then, she will be ready.

“None of us know. We all might be in that situation someday. So if they need help, they do come in and get help,” said Banaszak.

The propane shortage is being blamed on a combination of a continued cold winter, pipeline issues, and high demand from people and farmers drying crops from the fall harvest.